WITH harvest well underway, the fallout from the challenging season has become evident, prompting PIRSA to reduce its harvest forecast to an estimated 4.9 million tonnes in its latest Crop and Pasture Report.
The spring crop performance report outlines the health of crops and pastures across the state, which is quite varied with several districts experiencing drought.
Despite the below-average harvest, the farmgate value of the state’s crop is estimated to hold up at $1.7 billion on the back of higher grain and fodder prices this season.
The 4.9mt estimate grown from 3.5 million hectares is well below the long-term SA average of 7.9mt.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone said rainfall this growing season was below average across most of the state, with significant areas drought affected.
“This year we’re experiencing quite a patchy situation – some areas are experiencing very good seasons while others are experiencing very difficult seasons,” he said.
“A number of areas in the state are drought affected, including eastern and western Eyre Peninsula, upper North, northern Yorke Peninsula, Murray Mallee, eastern Mid North and North East pastoral.
“Most districts received very much below average rainfall in September.
“Several strong winds and some widespread frosts occurred in late September and early October.
“The widespread frosts damaged grain crops at their most vulnerable flowering to early grain fill stage. Around 10 per cent of the state’s grain crop was cut for hay as a result of the frost damage. “
Mr Whetstone said the government were working with industry, support agencies, communities and other government authorities to ensure farmers knew there was support available.
“The government has established our Family and Business Support Program with mentors available to support the health and wellbeing of drought-affected communities,” he said.
“Some farmers on Eastern EP, Upper North, Mid North and southern Mallee will not have enough grain to provide seed for next season’s crops, but anecdotally are expected to have enough seed in storage or be able to source seed from elsewhere to meet requirements.
“There is some pasture feed on Kangaroo Island, the South East and areas of the EP, but in other areas pasture feed and soil surface cover is low.”
Mr Whetstone said most cattle and sheep producers in pastoral areas had continued to reduce livestock numbers, with some totally destocking and most having reduced numbers by 40 per cent to 80pc.
Mr Whetstone said the crop production estimate was very similar to that of 1999-2000, 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons, which all were about 4.8-4.9mt.
“The government has convened the Dry Conditions Working Group with the state's major food and livestock industry organisations being members of that group,” he said.
“Working with government, the group is in place to plan support and assistance measures for farmers and communities.
“Producers are encouraged to contact PIRSA’s 24-hour hotline (1800 255 556) if they have any questions related to the current dry conditions.”
The next PIRSA Crop and Pasture Report is due in January 2019.
- Details: pir.sa.gov.au